Chaplains for Staff

“For 25 years, I prayed that we COs would have our own chaplain. Now, finally, we do.”
                                                      -- Sheriff’s Deputy, Cook County Department of Corrections

Please appoint a volunteer chaplain who solely supports your staff!

Background: In 2018, Cook County’s DOC in Chicago began its first, roving, volunteer chaplain just for staff. Staff had no chaplain; such support was solely or predominantly for detainees. It took only 8 hours total, over 3 weeks, for one staff to create and launch this chaplaincy-for-staff, which has steadily grown. Its speedy creation was due to appointing a volunteer chaplain – eliminating any budget process.
This 6-part Guide explains why staff should have their own chaplain, and simple steps to do so.
In summary:
  • Few jails have chaplains solely for staff. Even fewer rove tier to tier, to connect with all staff.
  • When distressed about family, health, or other issues, staff typically don’t seek help; they just try to get through their shift. If a chaplain waits to be called, such needs go unaddressed. But a roving, volunteer chaplain can encounter the hurting, offer a confidential ear, and give heart-felt support!
  • Start with Part 1 (“SELLING THE CONCEPT…”), to your leadership, providing the two American Jails articles on why and how to have such chaplains; suggest it be tested. Then, after approval:
  • Follow Parts 2 – 6. These detail how to find, select, launch, and support a roving, volunteer chaplain-just-for-staff. As each jail is unique, modify the steps/templates to reflect your agency’s requirements.
  • For a full description of how this can work at your agency, please click here to watch the Justice Clearinghouse webinar “Helping Hidden Heroes: Chaplains for Correctional Staff — Emotions, Health, and Retention”.
Part 1. Selling Admin on the Concept of a Chaplain for Staff
   1a. Article - Why have Chaplains for Staff
   1b. Article - How to have a Chaplain for Staff
Part 2. Find Chaplain Candidates
    2a. Article to give a possible Chaplain to read
    2b. Position Description - Template
    2c. Application Form - Template
    2d. Interview Questions - Template
Part 3. Select a Chaplain
Part 4. Launch Your Chaplaincy
Part 5. Tips and Resources for the Chaplain
Part 6.  Maintain and Grow Your Chaplaincy

 Linda Ahrens, AJA Chaplain